Assalamualaikum wbt, I want to ask what is the ruling of prostrating on a sharp object such as rock and others? Usually, our reflex reaction would be to immediately lift our head and move our head and prostrate again. Isn’t lifting your head when prostrating invalidates prayer?
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Prostration is a specific act of worship only towards Allah SWT. Thus, in the Quran the word prostrate is often meant as prayer. Allah SWT states:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ارْكَعُوا وَاسْجُدُوا وَاعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمْ وَافْعَلُوا الْخَيْرَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
“O you who have believed, bow and prostrate and worship your Lord and do good - that you may succeed.”
Surah al-Hajj (77)
The Definition of Prostration
Prostration literally means inclination or humbleness. While the term means placing a part of one’s forehead on the place of prostration. (Refer Nihayah al-Muhtaj, 1/509)
Prostration is one of the fi’li (action) requisite in prayer. For every requisite, it has its own valid conditions. Regarding prostration, we present several hadiths of the Prophet PBUH that is used as the istidlal in madhhab Syafi’e. Among them are:
إذا سجدت فمكن جبهتك ولا تنقر نقرا
“When you prostrate, keep your head on the ground and do not move too quickly,”
Narrated by Ibnu Hibban (1884)
The Prophet PBUH said:
أمرت أن أسجد على سبعة أعظم , وعلى الجبهة , وأشار بيده على أنفه , واليدين واركبتين وأطراف القدمين
"I have been ordered to prostrate on seven bones i.e. on the forehead along with the tip of the nose and the Prophet (ﷺ) pointed towards his nose, both hands, both knees and the toes of both feet and not to gather the clothes or the hair."
Sahih al-Bukhari (779) and Sahih Muslim (490)
In fiqh books of madhhab Syafie, there is 7 valid conditions for prostration. (Refer: Nail al-Raja’; 179; Fiqh Manhaji; 1/136)
- Prostrate on the seven parts stated in the hadith.
- The forehead is not covered.
- Placing the head and forehead (with light pressure) on the place of prostration.
- The intention is solely for prostration.
- Do not perform the prostration on an object that moves together with him when he moves.
- The backside is in a higher position than the head.
- Thama’ninah (pause/stay in the position for a while).
According to the above question, it is related to the seventh valid condition which is thama’ninah. Thama’ninah in prostration means placing the forehead on the place of prostration for a duration a person recites “subhanallah”. This is in accordance with a hadith narrated by Ibn Hibban stated above. It is also stated in another hadith of the Prophet PBUH:
...ثم اسجد حتى تطمئن ساجدا، ثم ارفع حتى تطمئن جالسا، ثم اسجد حتى تطمئن ساجدا...
“…and then prostrate till you feel at rest in prostration, and then sit up till you feel at rest while sitting; and then prostrate again till you feel at rest in prostration…”
Sahih al-Bukhari (724) and Sahih Muslim (397)
Lifting One’s Head After Prostration
Prostration must be performed by placing all seven parts of prostration in thama’ninah, however, the important part for prostration is the forehead. The reason is if the forehead is covered or obstructed then the prostration is invalid. The same is applicable if he lifts his forehead without any reason. (Refer: Hasyiyah al-Baijuri; 1/350)
The ruling of lifting one’s head during prostration is divided into two situations:
- Lifting the head without reason permitted by syarak – it will invalidate the prostration and prayer.
- Lifting the head for reasons permitted by syarak – it is detailed as the following:
Reasons permitted by syarak includes when a person prostrates on a sharp surface or object, or any surface that can cut or injure his head, then it is permissible for him to lift his head on the condition that his prostration has not reached the thama’ninah.
If his prostration has reached thama’ninah, then his prostration is invalid, for he consciously added another prostration in his prayer. (Refer Hasyiyah al-Baijuri; 1/350)
Syeikh Ibrahim al-Baijuri said: “If a person prostrated on a rough surface that it hurts his forehead as an example, then if he moves his forehead without lifting it off the ground then it does not affect his prayer. If he lifts his head and prostrates again before it reached thama’ninah, then it does not affect his prayer. Consequently (the prostration has reached thama’ninah), then it has harmed his prayer for he has added another prostration in his prayer. And if he lifts his head without any reasons permitted by syarak and places it back then his prayer is invalid.” (Refer Hasyiyah al-Baijuri; 1/350)
Syeikh Abu Qutaibah Rasyidi said: “Thus, if he prostrated on a sharp object if he moves his face without lifting his head, then it is fine. (And if) he lifts his head and places it back before reaching thama’ninah, then it is fine and if it has reached thama’ninah, then it will harm the prayer because there is addition of prostration.” (Refer Idhoh al-Misbah, 1/439)
Syeikh Daud al-Fatoni stated in Bughyah al-Tullab: “(And if) a person prostrates on a sharp object and he lifts his forehead then prostrate again on a different place, then his prayer is invalid, if the prostration has fulfilled the first condition (thama’ninah). And if not, then it is considered as a minor movement, thus, he should try not to lift his head and move his head a little away from the sharp object as to not invalidate his prayer.” (Refer: Idhoh al-Misbah, 1/439)
To conclude, after analysing the above discussion, we conclude that the ruling of prostrating on a sharp object or anything on the surface of the place of prostration that could harm a person’s forehead is as the following:
- If a person prostrates on the surface and it has not reached thama’ninah, then it is permissible to lift his head to prostrate at a different place that is not harmful and his prayer is
- If a person prostrates on a sharp or rough surface and it has reached thama’ninah, then it is impermissible for him to lift his head. If he did so (lifts his head), then his prayer is invalid and he must repeat his prayer.
- If he does not want to lift his head, then he can move his forehead without lifting his head to another place which is not harmful to him while he is prostrating. This is permissible according to scholars and his prayer is valid. Wallahua’lam.
May Allah SWT give us the right understanding in religion. Amin.